LHDA fights ‘half-truths’

LHDA fights ‘half-truths’

MASERU -FOR years, the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has been reeling from a battery of rumours, half-truths and innuendos levelled against it.
The situation has presented the LHDA with what has proven to be a public relations nightmare.
But on Tuesday, the LHDA Chief Executive Officer, Refiloe Tlali, sought to dismantle the rumours and half-truths brick-by-brick.
First, she dealt with the false story that the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) will no longer focus on generation of hydro-electricity and that it will only focus on the water transfer component.

“Those rumours are not true,” she said.
Tlali said the 1986 Treaty that was signed by the governments of Lesotho and South Africa as well as the Phase II agreement states that there will be water transfer and hydro-electricity components in future projects.
Tlali said a feasibility study of the hydro-electricity component is still being conducted.
She said they are about to complete the studies.
She said they have discovered three places where the electricity can be generated.
“The study will be completed next month,” she said.

The LHDA said generating electricity has to start in 2026 and that will be when they will start transferring water to South Africa. Phase II Divisional Manager, Tente Tente, said they conducted studies of both components. Tente said the water transfer component yielded the intended results.
“Without further studies, we could actually go into implementation,” he said.
Tente said the study of the hydropower component produced negative results. He said for that reason they had to conduct deeper studies which will begin next month.
Tente said so far they had discovered that Oxbow could be able to produce 90MW, Senqu B 82MW, Senqu D 30MW.
Tlali also dismissed charges that the LHDA was being controlled by South Africans through the Project Management Unit (PMU). She said the PMU is like any other department at the LHDA.
“All these departments belong to the management,” she said.

Tlali said there is no way that South Africans could control the LHDA through PMU. That is because the PMU consists of Basotho and people from other countries as well, she said. Tlali also dismissed charges that the LHDA was not abiding by the Treaty after it moved to Polihali instead of Mashai.
She said the decision to locate the new dam in Polihali was because it was better sited than Mashai where the water flows downward while they would have had to pump the water in Mashai.
“That was going to be expensive,” she argued.

Tlali said the issue of compensation was ongoing as they have to carry out research before paying villagers affected by the dams.
She said they just cannot compensate a person without investigating whether they were owed or not. Tlali further said there are cases of people who claim they have not been compensated by the LHDA only to uncover that the very same people had already been compensated.
She said sometimes delays in processing compensation are caused by misplaced records especially relating to very old cases.
Mahase Thokoa, who is the Phase 1 Divisional Manager, said some villagers in Mokhotlong had indicated they did not want to receive a once-off payment but instead preferred to be paid in phases.

’Makhotso Rakotsoane

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